21 December 2014

Melrose Abbey

I'm getting married here. I can totally make that happen. Luckily for me, L was not only tolerant of my crazy fantasies but is also an enabler and helped me plot out where the tent for the reception would go (obviously not in the graveyard) and pointed out that some sort of temporary flooring would have to be put down over the gravel.

Established by the Cistercian order in 11-something or other, the surviving structure is actually from only the 16th Century. "Only".  Not only are the ruins of the abbey home to the graves of many Scottish nobles but the heart of Robert the Bruce is also said to be here. Our charming (which really is a needless descriptor as to be Scottish is to be charming) driver said that if we remember anything from our trip, let it be that Braveheart was a great movie-but without one iota of actual historical accuracy.

What remains of the abbey is hauntingly beautiful. I've talked before about some churches giving me the feeling of being out doors while inside; that is truly the case at Melrose where little of the roof remains. Exposed to the elements as it has been, the stonework is alive with lichens the same vivid green as the Scottish fields. The stone carvings in the windows seem all the more elegant for the lack of glass and the exposed arches and buttresses seem impossibly delicate to provide support for the heavy stone walls.

It is an architecturally interesting place; originally constructed in the form of Saint John's cross. Soaring fluted Doric columns support the towering roof under which groin (or rib; it was hard for me to tell which ) and barrel vaults share space.

Melrose Abbey as equally beautiful from without as within. And I, the strange lover of cemeteries (the older the better) felt the crumbling headstones added an additional layer of enchantment to an already magical place.

You can totally see me getting married here, right? It was decommissioned in 16-somethingorother but I'm sure arrangements could be made for resanctification.

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